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Western Civilization I

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Western Civilization
Midterm Exam

The basis for the development of western civilization stems over hundreds of years and involved many different cultures and regions. As civilization evolved different cultures naturally had an impact on one another. The Hebrews, Greeks and Romans did just this, influence one another and these influences carried on to life, as it is known today.
From 1500-900 B.C. the Hebrews proved to be a pliable society who endured very hard times coming out with their culture relatively unbroken. The Hebrews were known for their cultural and spiritual laws, rules and morals. The ancient world was a harsh place to thrive and within the harshness they introduced morality and justice. Their belief in one god and their god is something that has extended over hundreds of years and continues into today’s culture. The nucleus of the Hebrew legal belief is found in the Ten Commandments, which is found in the bible. The Bible has had the greatest single influence on religion, ethics, and literature of the West. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all rooted in the scriptures of the Hebrews. Christianity evolved out of Judaism. Jesus and his early followers were Jews, and probably considered themselves Jewish reformers rather than founders of a new religion. The Christian Bible incorporated the Jewish Bible, so the bulk of Christianity's most sacred writings are Jewish as well. Muslims also regard the Jewish and Christian scriptures as important, and many passages in the Qur'an resemble passages in the Bible.
The Hebrews did not only begin having an impact hundreds of years after their demise but did so during their time with the Greeks. The Greeks were influenced by the Phoenician alphabet, which became a powerful tool for them. The Greeks used the alphabet to write and record poetry and stories, which for a long time relied solely on the memory of the people. Now they had a method of making a lasting memory. This also enabled Greek poets like Homer to be the object of many studies today.
The Greeks were people who were eager to achieve superiority over other societies. Their way of accomplishing this was to educate themselves as much as possible and to learn everything about the world. With this education, astronomists, mathematicians and politicians were born. One very notable mathematician and astronomist was named Pythagoras who made great discoveries in his fields. “He believed that the order in the universe was based on numbers and that mathematics was the key to understanding reality.” He developed the Pythagorean theorem. This is a geometric equation, which has been used for hundreds of years and still is today. Pythagoras was very respected in his time and it is not difficult to see why. The Greeks were also involved with politics. They are credited for the development of democracy, which has been the core of the American government for hundreds of years. The Greeks developed this system in 594 B.C. when Solon was elected. He created reforms to appease the lower class yet still keeping the rich happy.
The Greeks achieved their intellectual goals and this set them apart from other societies. The Romans took notice and appreciated the Greeks love for beauty in such things as art and architecture. The Romans used the ideas of the Hellenistic’s to build the Pantheon which was a temple dedicated to the gods. It was indicative of the Hellenistic style having a triangle structure on top of several columns and also a rectangular porch. The Romans began to incorporate the Hellenistic models in their education also. Cicero a notable Roman writer was “educated in the Greek tradition” (p. 135). During a time when the Greek language was thought to be superior Cicero was able to demonstrate the same of the Latin language in his style.
With some ideas from the Greeks the Romans evolved into a great power. They were determined to do more and to do it better. Their love of architecture brought about great engineers with even greater ideas. In the late third century B.C. some Roman architects discovered a new material used for building. By mixing a special volcanic brick earth with lime and water and new substance was born-concrete. This substance was strong and water proof. The Romans used it to master the art of arch making. This substance was so effective it is still used today. Today its uses have evolved in many ways and are an integral part of the construction of buildings, bridges and even thousands of miles of pavements.
Each of these ancient cultures has passed along many ideas, thoughts and inventions, which have been, and continues to be used today. The Hebrews have their legal beliefs which has been passed down for hundred of years in the Bible. This will be something that will always be around and remembered as long as there are Christians and Jews. The Greeks will always be known for developing democracy. This is their legacy. The adoption and expansion of Christianity is something the Romans will always be remembered for. As Christianity got bigger during the Roman times, the church formed units called diocese and appointed bishops to be in charge of these communities. There were also priests who had to report to the bishops. The church developed such a complex and tight network that they continued to grow and with that came power. The fathers of the church had great influence on the daily lives of the Roman people. The Roman church has stayed strong and kept their structure through hundreds of years even with their strict codes and rules. Though many Christians today are not of the Roman church, their faith and practice still stems from that of the organization.

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